Monday, January 31, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling.

Remember these? 
These were the cupcakes I made last Valentines' Day... an assortment of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, all from boxed cake mixes. 
... I really like sprinkles.

And until today they were the only cupcakes I've ever made. I'm more of a cookies girl. But I wanted to make something special for my dad's retirement and since he just bought me a really cute, spiraly white cupcake stand, I figured... cupcakes. 
Real cupcakes. No cake mixes.
Since my dad's favorite cake is a chocolate cake with white frosting, I picked a rich chocolate cupcake filled with a chocolate ganache and, instead of topping them with an overdose of chocolate frosting, went with my favorite vanilla buttercream instead.
And edible silver glitter stars!

And remember how I got decorating tips for Christmas? I got to practice! My first attempt... I was really excited...
I got a little carried away on some.
But for the most part, they came out really pretty.
These really are the ultimate chocolate cupcakes. 
Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling

Printable Recipe

Ganache Filling
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Chocolate Cupcakes
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup hot, strong-brewed coffee
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2-4 tablespoons milk

For the ganache filling, place chocolate, cream, and confectioners' sugar in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high power until mixture is warm to the touch, 20-30 seconds. Whisk until smooth and transfer to the refrigerator. Let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl and pour hot coffee over the mixture. Whisk until smooth and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, 20-30 minutes.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon of the ganache filling on top of each cupcake.
Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch, 17-19 minutes. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, in a large bowl beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt. Beat in confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of milk; beat at high speed until light and fluffy. Add additonal milk for desired spreading consistency.
Makes 12 cupcakes.

Source: Cupcakes from Pink Parsley, originally from Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2010. Frosting from Pillsbury Fall Baking, #93.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chocolate Swirl Marble Pound Cake.

January has been a month of indecision, maybe even commitment issues. I've lost all ability to choose between chocolate and vanilla.

First black & white cookies.

Then marbled chocolate chip cookies.

... and now this chocolate swirl pound cake. 
This is hands down one of the best things I've ever made. Even the batter was good. It seriously smelled like birthday cake and I could have eaten it with a spoon.

Not that I did.

I've never made pound cake before and I was a little intimidated by the layering & marbling. Confession? It was easy. You really do just swirl a knife through the batter. I thought for sure it would take some extra bit of complicated, culinary magic to achieve a pretty marbling.
So good. 

Chocolate Swirl Marble Pound Cake

Printable Recipe

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch tube pan.

Beat sugar and butter until blended; then increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy.

Add flour and remaining ingredients except for cocoa. Beat at low speed until well mixed, scraping the sides of the bowl often. Then increase speed to high and beat for 4 minutes longer, scraping bowl as needed. 
4 minutes is a really long time & I'm an impatient person. These pictures? I just wanted to know what a mixer on high speed looked like in a photograph. 

I'm easily amused like that. 
Scoop out 2 1/2 cups of batter into a small bowl. Whisk in cocoa and espresso powder. 
We were out of espresso powder so I used this instead... 
Alternately layer vanilla and chocolate batter into prepared pan. 
It doesn't have to be perfectly layered. Using a knife, cut and twist through batter to create the swirly marble effect. 
Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out.

*Note: The edges of my cake started to brown after only 30 minutes so I had to wrap all the edges with foil. 

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Remove cake and place on wire rack to finish cooling. 

Source: Barely adapted from here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

Two words: Make these.
If you've ever been to Red Lobster, you know exactly what I'm talking about: their endless supply of baskets full of piping hot, bursting-with-cheddar-cheese biscuits. They're soft, they melt in your mouth, they're brushed with melted butter and garlic... and they're addicting. 
Cheddar bay biscuits. They're world famous. They even have their own Facebook page.

In what world does a biscuit have a Facebook page

Our family's been using this recipe for years and they taste almost the same as the ones from the restaurant. They couldn't be any easier to make. Enjoy!

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Printable Recipe

2 1/2 cups Bisquick baking mix
3/4 cup cold whole milk
4 tablespoons cold butter
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 heaping cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

For brushing on top...
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
A pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or fork. You don't want to mix it too thoroughly... just until there are small chunks of butter about the size of peas.

Add cheddar cheese, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Mix by hand until combined, without over-mixing.

Drop dough in approximately 1/4 cup mounds onto an ungreased baking sheet. An ice cream scoop works best. They don't have to be perfect!
Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.

When you take the biscuits out of the oven, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and stir in the 1/4 teaspoon of parsley flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, and pinch of salt. Brush over the tops of the warm biscuits, using up all of the butter. 
See? Imperfection. Makes about a dozen biscuits.

Source: Unknown. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gingersnaps & An Epic Book Sale Find.

Every few months our library holds a book sale where, for $5, you can take home as many books as you can carry. Since I spend all of my free time either reading, in libraries, or daydreaming about the library in Beauty & the Beast (and baking), I get really excited about these book sales. You never know what you'll find.

Last year I found a bartenders' guide from 1948.

1948. With yellowed pages and ingredients that made no sense and everything (Kina Lillet? Caperitif? The white of one egg?!?). 

This caught my eye on Saturday. I have no idea how it got mixed in with all the books, but this pretty flowery box of possibilities was just lying there, ignored and unwanted, and I had to know. I looked around shyly, grabbed it, and ran to a corner to explore its contents.
Inside was this pretty blue recipe binder! I've been wanting one for so long, but never got around to it.
And not only was it in perfect condition... it was overflowing with recipes. See?  
Someone had donated their entire collection of family recipes. I wiggled my toes, did my very best not to dance, and started going through its pages, feeling a little intrusive, like a historian or a recipe archaeologist. 
Very funny.
That's better.
Caramel corn ice cream... oh how I am so making you this summer.
My boyfriend and I are planning a camping trip this spring and there were even pages on camping food!

I started thinking this book had magical, intuitive powers at this point.

(Not to mention the fact that the binder eerily matches my blog layout, right down to the pink daisies.)
This made me hungry.
Fancy apples.
Yes, please. Cheesecake = love.
Chocolate-banana crepes. Crepes has been on my aspirations list since before this blog was even an idea in my head.
Thank you, Ray273. This recipe has a unique twist at the end that I can't wait to try.
Did I mention that the box was full of recipes too? It's going to take awhile to sift through the whole thing. I can't wait to try the tortilla casserole to see what else I find.  

In the meantime... I made gingersnaps!

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Additional sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening and sugar. Beat in the egg and molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture.

Roll dough into balls and roll in extra granulated sugar. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned and crinkly. Remove to wire racks to cool. 

Source: Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars, Fall 2007. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Marbled Chocolate Chip Cookies.

 I'm really excited about this post.
This is the first recipe that I've pulled completely out of my own head. And by "completely out of my own head" I mean I took my recipes for chocolate chip cookies and chocolate-chocolate chip cookies and swirled them together as one. It's the little things in life.

Best decision ever.
Also... a couple of blog changes! I added links over the weekend to printer-friendly recipes for all my posts to make it easier to bake without lugging a laptop around. I hope everyone finds this helpful.

And a second, more exciting change... I now have a Facebook page! I figure my friends will appreciate my not updating my status every time I'm in the kitchen inventing cookies or running out of vanilla (yesterday). Plus it'll be easier to share updates, new posts, ideas and links, things like that. Don't be shy!

Marbled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Chocolate Cookie Dough
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

For chocolate chip cookie dough, combine the shortening, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir flour, baking soda, and salt with a whisk or fork and add in batches to the creamed mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl when needed. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.

For the chocolate cookie dough, cream the softened butter and sugars together. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking with a whisk or fork until combined and add in batches to the creamed mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. 

Take a 1/2 tablespoon of each (or more, depending on how big you want these) and press together. Gently roll it into a ball until it looks like this:
Bake for 11-13 minutes, let cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Enjoy!

Source: A Bakergirl original.